On September 22nd and 23rd, a brand-new music festival will make its debut in Southern California. Called Same Same But Different, the two-day camping arts and music festival is a refreshing addition to the West Coast music festival calendar, deviating from the region’s more standard festival experiences. Founded by Peter Eichar and Brad Sweet, the duo has fixated on the idea of “Same Same But Different” as a theme for the event, with the mantra running through all aspects of the festival. Noting that people today are so boxed-in by their tastes and views, the festival hopes to expand attendees’ perspectives and help them realize that people are “same same but different”—in other words, while people may have superficial differences, we can all revel in our common humanity.

The lineup features LettuceBoomboxThe FlooziesKnowerMoon Hooch, and more, and the numerous genres represented remain cohesive while offering fans the opportunity to see artists they wouldn’t usually choose. By actively curating an experience that encourages community and togetherness during this out-of-the-box event, Same Same But Different also has plenty of non-musical activities for fans to enjoy, including swimming and boating on the gorgeous Lake Perris and a full range of classes including art, yoga, meditation, Reiki, dance, and more—again standing out as “different” among the common SoCal music festivals while similarly offering the “same same” of some of most beloved music festivals in the country.

Live For Live Music got a chance to speak to founders Peter Eichar and Brad Sweet about their upcoming inaugural festival. You can read our interview with them below, and head to Same Same But Different’s website for more information and ticketing.

Ming Lee Newcomb: Since this is Same Same But Different’s first year, what should fans expect from this new festival? 

Peter Eichar: Well, I think one of the biggest things that we have to offer here is the dual-stage concept. There are so many festivals across the U.S. and Europe that will have something like three stages, and they’ll book those stages all day. You have the option to see A, B, or C. One of the things that Brad really pushed when we first started this was this dual stage concept, which is something I embraced as well, having seen it at a few smaller festivals. Then, out of that came this movement: the “same same but different” idea that encompasses the entire festival.

The biggest thing I’m proud of is the idea that we have many genres represented. We’re taking people on a musical journey. So, for somebody who may only listen to EDM, we have electronic music for you, but we want you to experience all these other facets of music, to open your ears, and therefore open your mind to what else is out there in the world, you know? We become very tribal. We become very focused on what we know and what we like, and that echo chamber effect is reinforced through all social media and through our conversations with people. We want to talk to people that we feel comfortable with.

But what this does is shut out other things, shut out outside opinions, shut out outside music. The idea here is that we want to open people up to the possibility that while you might think, “There’s no way I would like that,” you can go and experience it, and boom, you fall in love. It’s happened to me so many times at music festivals, and I want to share that experience with all of our festival goers.

Brad Sweet: I think that’s really well said and exactly what we’re going for musically with the stages. Outside of that, there’s so much more the festival has to offer. I think number one is the property. It’s just a beautiful state park in California. It’s one of the few lakes that you can go swimming and put boats into in Southern California. There’s camping right up against the beach, and the stages are also right there. We’re going to have a large bohemian-style tent on the beach called The Coconut Club. A giant tent that’s going to have yoga and other activities.

Another tent we’ll have is called The Tea Lounge, where we’ll also have different yoga and dance workshops as well as meditations and Reiki and other activities to take you outside your normal realm. We’re going to have art classes that are being taught in another area, so you can join, learn, and paint some cool stuff. We’ll also have a lot of live painters and interactive art exhibits that are in there, as well.

Then, yeah, also just camping outside of that on the property. So, you can hike around the property. It’s beautiful. There’s a lot to explore there. There are trees and beautiful areas with mountains and lakes. So, it’s a really cool area. Beyond the music, there’s just going to be so much to do while you’re up there. So, we’re excited about every piece of it.

Ming Lee: Can you talk more about the venue and how you found it?

Peter: We’re super excited to be at Lake Perris. That’s just a gem of a place. We dreamt of there being a lake at the festival site, but where were we going to find this in southern California? And we wanted the opportunity to grow. Those were our factors in searching for a property. It just so happened that the band that Brad and I had both played in was playing a festival that happened last year at Lake Perris. So we said let’s go check out this property, and we showed up and immediately fell in love with the area. We looked at each other and said, “If there’s any we way we can make this work, we’ve got to do it.” We made a phone call the next day and here we are.

Brad: With the property, I think that was one of the first things discussed. Day one, when we sat down, we talked about what the festival would be like and what we wanted. I think the property is just as important as the music, as the lineup, as everything. So we dreamt up this diamond in the rough that we figured didn’t exist—it was like our unicorn property—and named off all these things that it would have, and Lake Perris checked off every single one of those boxes. We didn’t even know it existed in southern California. We’re really excited that we’re able to be there and have a festival on it where people can swim, chill on the beach, bring boats and go boating around the lake, come in, and then listen to the music. Every piece of it is just going to be so much fun.

Ming Lee: To shift gears a little, it seems like Same Same But Different’s lineup falls outside other music festivals in Southern California. Though it has a diverse lineup, but it also seems to focus on funk and these artists who might not be as high on the bill at other regional festivals. Can you talk a little about how this lineup specifically came together?

Brad: We’re both from the Midwest. I think that we’ve both seen a lot of different great festivals that maybe don’t fit that Southern California lineup bill that a lot of them have here. A lot of people that have been responding to our festival—both East Coast and Midwest people—have reached out to us, and they’re pumped to see something like this in Southern California.

Peter: Absolutely. When we first started looking for bands and figuring out what direction we wanted to take this, I took a look at all of these festivals that are happening in Southern California. A large majority are mainly focused on EDM. You know, I do love EDM, but I also need to have a mix of live music in there. That’s what propelled me towards this zone. At the same time, being musicians ourselves, we enjoy a large variety of different types of music.

I think there was a goal to try to achieve as many kinds of music as we can, but at the same time, not spread it so far that the lineup didn’t make sense. I think in that realm, we had to approach this carefully. We could pick a lot of genres, but they had to flow into each other, especially because we’re doing a dual stage concept. It’s showing the variety of music that can exist while creating a flow to take a listener through a journey on both days.

Ming Lee: Can you get a little bit more specific as to what acts you’re most excited for?

Peter: Yeah. I mean, personally, Lettuce is one of my favorite live bands out there right now. They’re just such a great, tight funk group. The last time I saw them, I had an amazing time. One of the smaller acts that I’m really excited for is a group called Capyac. They’re originally from Austin, Texas, but then just recently relocated to Los Angeles. A buddy of mine showed me them a couple of years ago. I hadn’t paid much attention, but one day, something popped up on my Soundcloud, and I started listening to them. Within the last two years, they’ve created some amazing music, and I’m just really excited to bring them to the scene and show them to festivalgoers because it’s guaranteed that everyone’s just going to love them. They have just this amazing feel-good vibe. It almost reminds me of Jamiroquai in a way.

Capyac – “Speedracer”

[Video: CapyacVEVO]

Brad Sweet: I’m most pumped about The Floozies. I’m truly not a good dancer at all, but there’s no way not to dance at their shows, and I get down. So, I’m pumped to see them. I think a smaller act that I would say not to miss that I’m also really excited about would be The Family Crest. I’m just really pumped about them—just really amazing music, singer, strings.

Peter Eichar: Indie folk-rock, I would call them.

The Family Crest – NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

[Video: NPR Music]

Ming Lee: How did each of you guys find each other and decide to start Same Same But Different?

Peter Eichar: Yeah, it was funny. A little background: I’m still a part of a festival down here in San Diego called the Mustache Bash, which is a one-day funk festival where everyone dresses up in ’70s clothes. It’s in its 12th year now. One of the things that I do in that is play in what we call the Mustache Bash Family Band. I’ve known Brad because we’re both musicians. An ex-band member of mine is now his band member, and we got Brad to join the Mustache Bash Family Band. Brad and I have played shows together kind of all over the western U.S. as well.

Brad Sweet: We’re very into music. It was funny. We met playing in that band and didn’t realize we had so much overlap of other musicians that we had played with. Then, we’re also both from a neighboring city in Chicago and graduated from high schools that were next to each other at the same year, though we didn’t know each other. But, yeah, just a lot of funny overlap. Then, we ended up touring together and got in contact around the end of last summer/early fall about putting on this music festival.

I think we’ve both wanted to do it for a long time—to put on like an overnight camping experience with music and a festival. Like, taking what Peter’s done with the Mustache Bash and extending that into something that is a longer: a full weekend of music and all the good stuff that we’re looking to do with this festival. So, yeah, we got in contact, and the next day, we hit the ground running on getting things moving with it.

Mustache Bash 2018 Trailer

[Video: Mustache Bash]

Ming Lee Newcomb: Awesome. How did you guys decide on the festival’s name, Same Same But Different?

Peter Eichar: When we were conceptualizing this festival, we made a little Google doc, and on the top of it, I wrote, “What’s going to make this festival different than any other festival that exists?” I brought this idea up to a couple of my friends. The bass player of my band was like, “Pete, remember what we were talking about the other day? You were saying things were ‘same same but different’?” And all of a sudden, it clicked. It spoke to this idea that we’re not trying to say that we’re the greatest festival ever to exist. But, what we are trying to say is that we’re going to give you a good time at an amazing property with great music.

With that being said, it snowballed into “How can we use this idea to encompass everything about this festival?” And it ended up working in so many different ways. From the music, to the experience, to the property,  we fell in love with all of it. Now, we can see it in so many things in our lives. Once you bring that phrase into your life, you see it amongst your friends. You see it amongst people that you talk to on the street. You open up a conversation, and it’s almost like the tagline of that conversation is, “Look, we’re the same, but we might be different.”

And that’s what we’re going for. The idea that we all come from different areas. We all come from different cultures, different backgrounds. But we should all view ourselves as the same human element. Instead of, you know, dividing ourselves by differences, let’s use that to learn from each other. Let’s use that to grow. And so, the name started as a small thing, but then just ballooned into this encompassing idea that, as I said, takes over every facet of this festival and our ideas behind it.

Ming Lee: On your website, you guys talk about the echo chamber effect, which you’ve also mentioned in this conversation. Why do you think that’s so important? What benefits do you have for recognizing these tendencies in your life and countering them?

Brad Sweet: You see it in society a lot right now—a lot of people that have very, very strong opinions on a lot of different subjects, from cultural issues to politics. I think that one thing that’s reinforcing their own ideas is social media and also regular media. All of these different ways that content has been curated to deliver a message that people already believe. I think that’s causing people to listen less to each other—to anybody that maybe has a different idea on a subject or where maybe there is gray area. I mean, most of these issues have gray areas, and that’s why people disagree on a lot of things, and I think that’s great.

In a way, I think we’ve lost truly listening to something that’s different than what you already believe and the ability to easily change your own opinion or even just hear out the other side. It’s just a lot of people talking and not so many people listening. I think that’s the idea with getting people outside of that forced echo chamber and saying, “Hey, we’re going to take you a little bit outside of what you already know that you like.” Maybe you don’t like EDM or reggae or rock that much, but I bet in the right setting with the right people and at the right time, you would absolutely love it.

Peter: A couple of months ago, when this idea first really started, I remember talking with somebody that I didn’t necessarily agree with politically about the views that they shared and why they shared those views. In the end, we realized that we actually shared the same views. We were so reinforced with our own ideas, we were being pulled to these different sides, but then we both realized that we both wanted the same thing. We had just seen two completely different paths via this echo chamber effect to get to that point. We ended up laughing about it at the end, like “You know, how crazy is this that 10 minutes ago, I thought that you were crazy, and all of a sudden, we realize that we’re talking about the exact same thing?” I think that’s another encouraging factor behind all this.

Ming Lee: In contrast to these large events like Coachella and Bonnaroo, these smaller independent events, like the one that you’re putting on, are super important for music lovers who might have more niche tastes. Plus, there are so many benefits to smaller events in terms of community and being able to send a message and really reach fans, unlike larger, more-corporate festivals. For you guys, what are the benefits of these smaller music festivals, and why you think that people continue to seek them out?

Brad: I think you said it perfectly. There’s a sense of community. I think my first festival was when I was fourteen at Summer Camp in Chillicothe, Illinois—we’re talking a long time ago back when it was still a small festival. It felt like by the end of the weekend; I knew every single person that was at the festival. Over the years, festivals take on different shapes. They’ll grow, and some will change what they’re about, and maybe that’s a natural thing.

But I think there’s just a magic around year one because everybody that’s there—especially any of the teachers, instructors, classes, volunteers, but also all the festival-goers as well—each person shapes what the festival is and what it’ll be for years to come. I can’t stress enough: we’re just two guys that are musicians and that love music. There’s a team coming together around us and helping to bring this all together and make some magic. There’s no corporate policies here or anything along those lines. We’re just trying to make a really beautiful weekend for everybody.

Lettuce & The Floozies – Red Rocks – 6/8/2018

[Video: nugsnet]

Ming Lee: Awesome. Once you get year one down, what are your ultimate goals for the festival, or what do you hope that it could become?

Brad Sweet: Sell out and go corporate—[laughs] No, I’m just kidding.

Peter Eichar: I think the cool thing about the property that we’ve chosen is that it can grow—and not necessarily grow to Coachella numbers, because personally, I feel like that’s too big. I feel like you lose that magic. But growing to about 10,000 people is a goal, which still can feel very organic and feel like you can really see and know the people there. I hope that we can get it to that point.

I also personally hope that we can get Same Same But Different to the point where we still maintain the same musical integrity. That’s a big thing. Surely in the future we can get bigger acts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to all the sudden put everything in the same genre or anything along those lines. I think we can still keep this a very eclectic music festival while growing. That’s one of my goals, to take this movement and get it to enough people so that we can make a social impact. I think that’s a significant thing with a music festival: the idea that it can have a social impact on society. And if we can get it to a point where everybody leaves, not a completely changed person, but with slightly changed ideals and take that home, then maybe we’ve made a positive impact.

Ming Lee: Totally. That’s super awesome. It’s noble that you guys are incorporating a socially conscious message but doing it in a way that isn’t necessarily alienating. Like, it’s cool that you guys can get your message across by bringing people together.

Peter: Yeah, we’re not trying to scream at you and say you’re doing it all wrong or anything like that. We’re just trying to say, “Open your ears, hear this idea, and take it with you.”

Brad: For thousands and thousands of years, music has been a very social and a very spiritual type of experience. Over the last hundred years maybe, now there’s a business around it all. I think that we can’t forget what the real purpose is of music. And if there’s a message that can be spread and delivered to people that are going to be a part of the festival, all the better. I think a long-term goal is to keep us following our own ideals and listening to what people want and shaping things around what we feel is needed by our audiences and people that enjoy coming to our festival.

Same Same But Different will take over the shores of Lake Perris, California, on Saturday, September 22nd, and Sunday, September 23rd. With a standout lineup, no overlapping sets, and plenty of activities, this debut festival is not one that you’ll want to miss. You can head to Same Same But Different’s website for more information and ticketing.